Eco-art is simply art made by people concerned with the environment, usually expressing a message of responsibility and/or activism. It often takes quite innovative forms, reflecting artists’ inspiration by both nature and society. All clumsy description aside, check out some of my favorite examples, and I’ll let the art speak for itself!
1. Reverse Graffiti
One of the most original and thoughtful new media for eco-art today, reverse graffiti is the work of a few different artists inspired by UK’s Moose (a.k.a. Paul Curtis), who pioneered the practice of selectively cleaning away dirt and grime from city streets and buildings to leave behind stunning images with an environmental theme. The contrast between clean and polluted serves as a surprising reminder of our impact on the world. Moose’s work has become so popular as to attract sponsors like Green Works cleaners, allowing him to up the ante and reach broader audiences with his work. Also check out the work of Alexandre Orion in Sao Paolo, Brazil, exhibiting a slightly more radical activist bent.
2. Dirty Car Art
In a similar vein, artist Scott Wade makes some pretty amazing images by removing dust from dirty car windows! From classics recreations like the Mona Lisa or the poker-playing dogs, to portraits of Einstein and Ronaldinho, to stunning pictures of places, animals, and even the Mad Hatter’s tea party, Wade displays impressive skills and surprising commitment to detail, especially when considering the short life span of his pieces!
3. Portraits of Consumerism
One-time lawyer turned eco-photographer Chris Jordan tackles some pretty weighty topics with his images of consumer culture’s effects on the Earth. One series entitled “Midway: Message from the Gyre” features shots of (unaltered, non-staged) albatross remains with large amounts of plastic wastes in their decomposing stomachs. Another entitled “In Katrina’s Wake; Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster” visually details the damage to homes, human possessions, and the environment wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Other works feature pseudo-pointalist images composed of recycled materials like soda cans and discarded cell phones, drawing attention to the vast amounts of waste generated by human societies.
4. Electromagnetic Art
Equal parts high-tech, visually stunning, and frightening, Richard Box’s FIELD installation in Bristol illuminates viewers on the potential dangers of the man-made electromagnetic radiation all around us. The installation features a series of 1,301 fluorescent light tubes planted below power lines; each night viewers can see the bulbs lit up by nothing more than the ambient radiation from the lines overhead. Makes you wonder what such levels of radiation can do to the natural environment, not to mention us humans! Even scarier is the fact that you can try to recreate this effect yourself, simply by placing a fluorescent light, un-powered, underneath your own local power lines.
5. Edible Vegetable…Art?
Designer Geke Wouters of the Netherlands recently unveiled a line of commercially-available cups, bowls, and vases for use, display, or consumption, made from 100% vegetable matter. By drying and shaping carrots, peppers, beet root, leeks, tomatoes, and other vegetables into paper-thin sheets, the designer illustrates that form, function, and aesthetics can all come together with a little work and a lot of originality. But like dusty car art, these pieces don’t hold up so well in the rain! Good thing you can always re-order from Mossi Lab if the picnic gets rained on, or if your guests get too hungry…
One version of “eco-art” is even what we used to do in school as kids, where we would bring in used toilet paper rolls and egg cartons and made crafts out of them….I wasn’t the only one who did that right?
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